The new SAT in 2016 is not all that different from the 2400 version of the SAT. The three main topics tested are still Math, Reading, and Writing. You might be wondering…how does the 1600 SAT test three topics if there are only two scores out of 800? The College Board has combined the Reading and Writing sections into one score out of 800 rather than having a separate score out of 800 for each. This is actually great news for students who have studied for the 2400 version of the SAT previously. Much of what you learned (especially if you took a 2400 Expert course) will still be applicable. Of course, there are some differences that we should point out.
One of the major points of differentiation between the 2400 version of the SAT and the new 1600 version of the SAT is the essay. The essay is now optional and appears at the end of the exam. Previously, the essay was required and appeared as the first section of the exam. Although the essay is now optional, I still recommend taking the essay. The essay is also now analytical rather than persuasive. On the 2400 version of the SAT, students were asked to take a position on a topic and defend their position using examples from their own knowledge. On the new 1600 version of the SAT, students are now asked to analyze a given passage of text and write about how the author develops his or her argument. Although this may sound more difficult, the SAT compensates this extra reading you have to do by giving you more time – 50 minutes (compared to 25 minutes previously). In addition, 2400 Expert Strategies make the New SAT Essay section perhaps the easiest portion of the exam.
There is also a big difference in how the New SAT is scored. Previously, students were penalized when they answered questions incorrectly. Therefore, test prep companies would come up with strategies to determine whether it was better for a student to guess or leave a question blank if they were not sure of the answer. But because there is no longer a penalty for guessing, if you are unsure on a question, you should always guess on the new. There is no reason to leave questions blank anymore. In addition, multiple-choice questions now only have 4 answer choices as opposed to 5 previously. This immediately increases your chances of answering questions correctly even if you are guessing!
In terms of score reporting, the previous version of the SAT gave you a score out of 800 for the Math, Reading, and Writing sections. Now, the new SAT will give you a score out of 800 for the Evidenced-Based Writing and Reading section and a score out of 800 for the Math section. Essentially, they have just combined the Reading and Writing sections together. You will also get a separate score for your Essay.
In addition, there are multiple kinds of “subscores” that will give a more in-depth analysis of your particular strengths and weaknesses. But students should really be concerned about their total score out of 1600. At 2400 Expert, our goal is to get this score as high as possible because it is the one that colleges really care about.